NEW YORK - Protests against Wall Street spread across the country yesterday as demonstrators marched on Federal Reserve banks and camped out in parks from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine, in a show of anger over the wobbly economy and what they see as corporate greed.
Occupy Boston protesters still working on message, B5.
In Manhattan, hundreds of protesters dressed as “corporate zombies’’ in white face paint lurched past the New York Stock Exchange clutching fistfuls of fake money. In Chicago, demonstrators pounded drums in the city’s financial district. Others pitched tents or waved protest signs at passing cars in Boston, St. Louis, and Kansas City, Mo.
The arrest of 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge over the weekend galvanized a slice of discontented America, from college students worried about their job prospects to middle-age workers who have been laid off.
Some protesters likened themselves to the Tea Party movement - but with a liberal bent - or to the Arab Spring demonstrators who brought down their rulers in the Middle East.
“I’ve felt this way for a long time. I’ve really just kind of been waiting for a movement to come along that I thought would last and have some resonation within the community,’’ said Steven Harris, a laid-off truck driver in Kansas City.
Harris and about 20 other people were camped out in a park across the street from the Kansas City Federal Reserve building, their site strewn with sleeping bags, clothes, and handmade signs. Some passing drivers honked in support.
The Occupy Wall Street protests started on Sept. 17 with a few dozen demonstrators who tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Since then, hundreds have set up camp in a park nearby and have become increasingly organized, lining up medical aid and legal help and printing a newspaper, the Occupied Wall Street Journal.
About 100 demonstrators were arrested on Sept. 24 and some were pepper-sprayed. On Saturday police arrested 700 on charges of disorderly conduct and blocking a public street as they tried to march over the Brooklyn Bridge. On Sunday police ordered protesters to remove boxes and tarps they were using as shelter.
Wiljago Cook, of Oakland, Calif., who joined the New York protest on the first day, said she was shocked by the arrests.
“Exposing police brutality wasn’t even really on my agenda, but my eyes have been opened,’’ she said. She vowed to stay in New York “as long as it seems useful.’’
Yesterday, the “zombies’’ stayed on the sidewalks as they wound through Manhattan’s financial district chanting, “How to fix the deficit: End the war, tax the rich!’’ They lurched along with their arms in front of them. Some yelled, “I smell money!’’
Some protesters planned to travel to other cities to organize similar events.